Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Dec 17 22:27:50 UTC 2004

On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 16:06:57 -0500, George Thompson
<george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:

>Williams has 3 fairly long paragraphs.  #1 = whore, including
>references to Farmer & Haneley, under "cut" and the New Canting
>Dcitonary, 1725: "in some Norther Counties . . . signifies a
>Strumpet".  Also: Mercurius Fumigosus 16 (13-20 Sept. 1654: "where a
>cuckold has been 'riding of CUT . . . for quietness sake, and to please
>the good woman for the exaltation of his Brow-antlers'" & Maid Emlyn
>(c.1510) "describes how the young wife would 'mete with her leman
>swete, and cutte with hym'"
>#3 = genitals, cites Rogers, Horn Exalted (1661), ". . . the cut might
>be done up and closed completely. . . ."; Middleton's Chaste Maid (1611-
>13), ". . . can any woman have a greater cut?", an 1680
>manuscript: "makes a plea to be spared 'From telling of Tales when wee
>are at Rutt and Ramming Two Candles in one Ladys Cutt'"

Presumably Williams' def #1 of "cut" has some connection to OED's def #30:

    30. A term of abuse, applied to a man or woman. Obs. or dial.
    [Perh. from prec. sense: with Call me cut, cf. Falstaff's 'call me
    horse' in 1 Hen. IV, II. iv. 215. As applied to a woman, app. more
    opprobrious: cf. CUTTY.]

    c1490 H. MEDWALL Nature, If thou se hym not take hys owne way Call
    me cut when thou metest me another day. 1575 J. STILL Gamm. Gurton V.
    ii, That lying cut is lost, that she is not swinged and beaten. 1601
    SHAKES. Twel. N. II. iii. 203 If thou hast her not i' the end, call me
    Cut. 1605 Lond. Prodigal Cijb, And I doe not meete him, chill giue you
    leaue to call me cut. 1725 New Cant. Dict., A Cut in some Northern
    Counties..signifies a Strumpet. 1820 SCOTT Abbot xix, ‘You shall call
    me cutt if I do go down’, said Adam.

The preceding sense is 'A familiar expression for a common or labouring
horse'.  And def 2 of "cutty" is:

   a. 'A short stump of a girl. Dumfriesshire' (Jamieson).
   b. A term of reprobation for a testy, or naughty girl or woman;
   but often used playfully.

--Ben Zimmer

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